Promoting “Sendai Seven Campaign”
Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies
India woke up to the shocking realisation of what the sea can do. It was December 26, 2004, a major Tsunami has struck the southern coast of India. There were many emotional and heart-breaking accounts that followed that fateful morning. Those who went for a morning walk on the marina beach, which they have been doing for years, did not return, nor some who went for Sunday morning shopping. Many of the people living in high rise buildings thinking that it is an earthquake, came down and never returned. 2004 Tsunami is perhaps the first in recent past India has seen.
Eight Tsunamis have been reported in recorded history of India. The loss of life was more due to a lack of awareness about Tsunami and what actions one should take. A look at the +2 Science book would reveal that there is a chapter on Tsunami. People tend to ignore many warnings, and the need for caution brought into their awareness. That is where observing “World Tsunami Awareness Day” is of significance.
November 5 was designated as World Tsunami Awareness Day by the UN in 201, to raise awareness about Tsunami and share innovative approaches to risk reduction. Several people live in low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States exposed to extreme sea-level events, including Tsunamis. By the year 2030, an estimated 50% of the world’s population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms, and tsunamis. Having plans and policies in place to reduce impacts of Tsunami will help to build resilience and protect populations at risk.
A search on the web leads to the significance of November 5 being chosen to be observed as Tsunami Awareness Day. It traces back to the year 1854. A conscious villager in Wakayama, Japan, sensing an impending Tsunami after a high-intensity earthquake, set a fire on hilltop climbing the same. The villagers went atop to put off the fire and saved themselves from the fury of Tsunami. In a way, it was the first documented instance of a Tsunami early warning method.
Even though Tsunamis are rare events, the devastations caused by them and consequent economic costs are enormous. The Tohoku Earthquake in Japan cost, in 2011 is reported to be the costliest disaster with an estimated loss of 235 billion dollars. 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has caused the highest number of deaths which is estimated to be 227,000 across 14 countries, with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand hardest hit.
The word “tsunami” comprises the Japanese words “tsu” (meaning harbour) and “nami” (meaning wave). A tsunami is a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance usually associated with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean. Though the reason for Tsunami is an earthquake, not all earthquakes cause tsunamis, it should be of at least 6.5 on the Richter Scale.
Volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and coastal rock falls can also generate a Tsunami. A large asteroid impacting the ocean also can cause a Tsunami. Tsunami waves often look like walls of water, attack the shoreline for hours, with waves coming every 5 to 60 minutes. The first wave may not be the largest, and often it is the subsequent waves that are the biggest. After one wave inundates, or floods inland, it recedes seaward usually as far as a person can see, so the seafloor is exposed. The next wave then rushes ashore within minutes.
Tsunamis are also referred to as tidal waves and seismic sea wave. Natural warningsinclude a loud roar from the ocean, unusual ocean behaviour. Native animals have a remarkable ability to detect impending earthquakes and Tsunamis. Animals may sense unusual vibrations or changes in air pressure coming from one direction that suggests they should move in the opposite direction.
In the recorded history, a reference to Tsunami was there as early as 426 BC by the Greek historian Thucydides in his book History of the Peloponnesian War. The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus describing the typical sequence of a tsunami, after the 365 AD Tsunami devastated Alexandria.
Kudos to Indian scientists. A state-of-the-art warning centre has been established at INCOIS. This has all the necessary computational and communication infrastructure that enables reception of real- time data from the network of national and international seismic stations, tide gauges and bottom pressure recorders. The performance of the system was tested during the 2007 earthquake of magnitude 8.4 off Java coast. The system performed as designed. It was possible to generate advisories in time for the administration, and possible evacuation was avoided. It functions as an approved Tsunami Service Provider of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning & Mitigation System (IOTWMS). And is an integral part of the Global Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, established and coordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.
Let us bring awareness of the consequences of natural disasters, after all, life is precious, and that is what you have and real.